Hold Fast!

2Ti 1:13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 2Ti 1:14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

First, Paul says to Hold fast the form of sound words. What does that mean?

Interesting to me that Paul only says to hold fast twice in his letters. He says to the Thessalonians in 1 Thess. 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good, and here we are to Hold fast the form of sound words. With both sets of instructions, Paul encourages us to adhere to, to cling to firmly, to never let go, everything that is good about this grace life and those sound doctrines of grace.

You know, there is a woodworking instrument called a “holdfast,” which is this metal piece, shaped like an L or a shepherd’s hook, and it’s used on a woodworking workbench to fix a workpiece to the top or side of the bench while it is being worked on. In a similar vein, you hold fast to the words of Christ while you perfect your walk.

The bigger point is that holding fast is having a powerful grip on something of real substance designed to keep it together while that object is being shaped into something else. We hold fast to the whole package of grace while we perfect our walk and conform to the very image of Christ, and our faith and love is the strength and the shape of our holdfast that ensures that none of the pieces ever fall apart. We hold on to those sound grace doctrines in faith, a living faith in a living God, taking God at His word, believing what God says to us through Paul because God Himself said it. We hold fast to these sound doctrines of grace in love as well, because these doctrines are not simply head knowledge but heart application, the life of Christ living out of us with His love shed abroad in our hearts. Like the holdfasts of old, we cling to the truth in faith and love and we never let go.

When Paul says the form of sound words, he means the shape, the pattern of sound words, not just the truths themselves but the manner in which those truths are conveyed, which Timothy had seen in Paul’s mighty example. It’s not that Scripture must only be quoted to convey to someone the truth God wants them to know. But it’s good to quote Scripture and many of the words we use to explain a truth would be based out of Scripture, and we would be careful to ensure the tone is one of love and meekness.

Timothy was to adhere to the doctrines he learned, not only in its substance, but in the manner in which those doctrines were taught, which he is to exemplify as well.

The same Greek word here for sound words was used to talk about wholesome words in 1 Tim. 6:3 in which Paul wrote of false teachers who consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ… These were teachers who refused to draw near to, yield to, assent to, wholesome words, which are sound words, the words of Scripture itself that supplies nourishment to the soul, spiritual words in stark contrast to the diseased, carnal, flesh-appealing words of the world.

Some of these wholesome spiritual words are the words of Paul inspired by the Spirit as well as the words of the Lord Jesus Christ given to Paul to give to us. So when Paul means the form of sound words, it’s not just the words of Paul but the words of the Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ given to Paul to give to us as well and it’s the spirit of love and compassion with which those doctrines are shared.

I loved what William Kelly said: “It is not enough to have the things of the Spirit; the words in which they are conveyed need to be of the Spirit also, in order to communicate God’s mind in perfection…”

The Deposit

Then we get to vs. 14: That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

We had in verse 12 Paul resting in the fact that the Lord will keep that which he had committed unto Him against that day and here we have the flipside of that. Timothy, and by extension all of us, are to keep that which the Lord has committed unto us against that day.

Many call this verse the “guard the deposit” verse, because keep can also be viewed as guard and that good thing is one Greek word also meaning “deposit.” So some say guard the deposit. But I prefer just how it’s written. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

What is that good thing? That whole package of grace, Paul’s gospel, the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery.

In what sense is it good? In any dictionary, there are at least a dozen different definitions for the word good. It’s the same in the Greek. The sense in which a thing is good must be determined by the nature of the thing that’s being called good. So you take, for example, the good shepherd. A good shepherd is a kind shepherd, a good soldier is a brave soldier, a good foundation is a solid foundation, good measure is an abundant measure, good works are works that are morally right or generous, good fruit is sound, healthy fruit, a good steward is a faithful steward, and a good diamond is a diamond of high quality; valuable, precious. It’s in this sense, that I think Paul meant good. The whole package of grace is of high quality, precious, valuable, like an extraordinary diamond. So we are to keep, we are to hold on to, we cling to, we protect, we defend, we keep close to our hearts and never let go, those good, those priceless grace doctrines now committed unto us in His Word.

Notice Paul says by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us. Paul points to the commonality they shared of the Holy Spirit being inside all of them. Why would he say that? Because it’s the same Spirit that worked through Paul to teach us those sound doctrines of grace is the same Spirit that works in us to understand those sound doctrines of grace and to live our lives according to those truths. Neither Timothy nor we can afford to quench the Spirit by following false works-based doctrines by going back under the law because the Spirit is only going to teach us how to live by His grace. Letting go of the sound doctrines of grace means that we’ll become victims of an apostasy and doctrines of devils. Letting go of the sound doctrines of grace means the shipwreck of our faiths. Letting go of the sound doctrines of grace means we’ll be out of His will having fallen from His grace.

William Kelly, writing about this point made by Paul of the Holy Ghost dwelling in us, said, “This is the common and characteristic power of the Christian; and therefore it was fitting that, while Timothy should be reminded of One so competent to help our infirmity, he should have it clearly before his soul that the saints at large have the divine Spirit no less truly dwelling in them.” It is such a comfort to know that we’re not in this alone to understand grace and protect the doctrines of grace that’s been given to us but the Spirit is in us all to help us, guide us, and comfort us even in the midst of the chaos of these last days of grace.

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